University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Getting the Murals to the Museum

C492 with accession numbers

By: Stephen Lang

It’s important to understand how an object actually comes into the museum. The Buddhist murals in the Rotunda are comprised of many different sized panels which entered the museum in stages.  The mural depicting Tejaprabha Buddha came into the museum incomplete in 1926.  You can see the panels are actually framed in large wooden borders […]

What ARE the Buddhist Murals Made Of?

mural constructionv3

By: Morgan Burgess

The questions most frequently asked of us while working on the Buddhist murals in the Chinese rotunda involve what the murals are made of. Often people presume they are frescoes. True fresco is done on wet plaster. The pigments used in a fresco are mixed with water and applied to a wet plaster surface. A […]

The Two Buddhist Murals from Guangshengsi Monastery


By: Stephen Lang

  Two of the most fascinating objects in the Asian section are a pair of  murals reported to have come from Guangshengsi Monastery in southern Shanxi Province, China.   What makes them particularly interesting is the nature in which their provenance, date, and subject matter have fluctuated over the decades since they came into the […]

Seeing with A Haida Master – Robert Davidson

A 100 year old raven rattle in the collection really got his attention. Collection Object Number: NA3367A

By: Lucy Fowler Williams

We recently spent the day with renowned Haida artist, Robert Davidson, looking at old Haida carvings in Penn Museum’s collection.  Having flown across the country from Haida Gwaii, British Colombia (Canada!), Robert and his wife Terri-Lynn Williams-Davidson (a Haida attorney) arrived with their own photographer, Jack Litrell.  Their goal was to interview and record Mr. […]

Conserving the Buddhist Murals: An Introduction

Pre-program interns Morgan Burgess (left) and Cassia Balogh (right) work recording the current condition of  the mural C 688

By: Lynn Grant

Just because artifacts have been in our collections or even on display for a long time doesn’t mean we know all about them. A case in point is the large Buddhist Murals in our Chinese Rotunda, probably the largest artifacts in our collection, at least in area. Although they’ve been on exhibition there since the […]

Archives Photo of the Week: Unearthed from the Archives


By: Eric Schnittke

This Friday at 2PM, the Penn Museum Archives will open it’s doors to show off some of our treasures as part of a new program called “Unearthed from the Archives”. Each week, the archivists will choose a different item from the archives to present. We’re blessed with the gift of gab here in the archives […]

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